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Digital Subscriptions > The Artist > August 2018 > How to create a successful composition

How to create a successful composition

Why do some compositions work but not others? Jenny Aitken shares her method for creating a flow within a painting


The Derwent at Cromford, Derbyshire, acrylic on canvas, 193⁄4x193⁄4in (50x50cm)

Hopefully it goes without saying that, as with any rule, this one is as breakable as the rest in the incredible world of art. But for successful realism, a few changes to your compositional preparation can be the difference between life and death for your painting. A good composition will create movement, and bring your work alive.

Map it out

Think of a painting less as a picture and more as a treasure map. The eye is hard to please, and for attention to be held, there needs to be a journey contained within the painting. The eye needs to be drawn in, then moved through and around that journey, on a wander with a lovely stop on the way.

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About The Artist

Welcome to our August issue packed with practical, how-to articles and demonstrations to help inspire and guide your drawing and painting over the summer months. Our top team of professional artists and tutors are passionate about sharing their ideas and technical skills to help you learn from their experience. The issue is brimming over with features covering all media and subject matter, including advice from Paul Riley on the advantages and benefits of using water-mixable oils and Robert Dutton on how to incorporate the use of acrylic spray paints to great effect in your mixed-media work. Watercolourists will love the different approaches and ideas shared by Vivienne Cawson (flowers), Amanda Hyatt (tonal impressions), Geoff Hunt (working en plein air), Robert Brindley (street scenes) and Julie Collins, who offers some great ideas about colours and colour combinations for painting trees. All this and more, plus look out for the 'swipe for more images' and hand logo to see even more images from our wonderful artists. And don't forget to enter the last of our summer sketching competition challenges set by Adebanji Alade, with prizes up for grabs from GreatArt!